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Extremes of weather in Derby history

Extremes of weather were a notable feature in seventeenth Century. The Chronicle records 'a great snow' in 1614, followed by 'a great drought which continued four months'. In 1634, during another great fall of snow, four people froze to death while travelling between Chaddesden and Derby. In contrast, in 1661 'The River Derwent wonderfully dried up so that people might go over unshod'. In 1674, the Markeaton Brook flooded the centre of Derby so that 'St. James Bridge was landed at the pump in St. Peter's parish.' Even more dramatic was the extreme weather of 1676. The Chronicle records,

A very dry summer, and a hard frost this winter. - Derwent frozen over so as persons went up to Darley, and waggons loaded went over the ice upon the Brook at Tenant Bridge, and lasted from the end of October and until the latter end of January.


The Chronicle finishes its comments on the seventeenth century with words which presage the problems which later faced Little Chester, '1698, November 5 a great Flood which occasioned part of St. Werburgh's Church to fall.'

In 1895 the Derwent froze yet again and people went skating out of doors.

In the early hours of Sunday 21 May 1932, as before, the Derwent burst its banks. Five and half inches of rain had fallen in less than eight hours, swelling the Markeaton Brook to three times its normal size and it overflowed, pouring its waters into Derby town centre. The rain fell so heavily that by morning the lower areas of the town were flooded to a depth of eight feet. Over 900 properties were affected. In Derby, the plaques which had been placed at certain spots in the town to mark the height of the 1842 flood were covered and a new record height was recorded. In Duffield, it was by fa the worst flood they had ever expeirienced, the River Ecclesbourne having burst its banks and carried away bridges, fowl, sheep, dogs, cats and all manner of farm implements.

[A City Within a City, Little Chester Derby, AD80 - AD2000, by Joan D'Arcy, P.36]

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